The ongoing battle between the volunteer Reddit moderators and names in the esports community flared up over the weekend, as controversial talking head Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields found himself a victim of voluntary association. The analyst and historian had some of his work removed from the League of Legends subreddit, due in large part to his ongoing relationship with Richard Lewis, a journalist who was banned from the same sub years ago after constantly clashing with mods.
Although he feigns ignorance in the quoted tweet, there is little doubt Thorin is aware of the reasoning behind the move from the mods, as you can see in the exchange that follows. In the same thread, Lewis clearly details the latest conversation with the mods and the fallout from it, which according to his account means any Dexerto piece (the publication he works for) will be removed due to his association with the company.
Whatever your thoughts on the figures involved, it does seem a little unfair to punish everyone for the supposed transgressions of a couple of people, but then again the concept of fairness is one everybody should have abandoned shortly after leaving primary school. The world of adult life is often inherently unfair, and the "it’s my ball" rule does carry over from the playground, meaning that you have to play certain games by other people’s rules if you want certain prizes.
Somebody think of the kids
The real issue continues to be the lack of an alternative platform for esports content, which means the likes of Lewis and Shields are constantly forced into conflict with Reddit and so on. Esports fans may bleat about freedom of speech, of course, but that doesn’t really apply on private platforms like Reddit, Twitter or Facebook, where the owners set the rules and you either play along or find a new game.
It could be argued that Lewis or Shields are by no means innocent, as their famously abrasive personalities have played a large part in the deterioration of their relationships with certain subs, but the sad thing is the people who suffer are generally the fans, who miss out on some of the content. You might argue that companies will consider not hiring writers who are banned, which Lewis is convinced is the motivation behind his long-term exclusion from the site, but it’s clearly not hurting the pair in question who remain "faces" in the esports space despite it.
Still, this is a problem for esports fans, and risks us losing the thing that makes a difference when you compare our journalists and talking heads to the traditional sport media. Replacing the real, unfiltered output we have grown to love with fluff stories about a streamer doing X, or an owner saying Y on Twitter is, ironically, a lot of what Dexerto is doing, but long-term it will hurt journalists, players, and most crucially fans. We need an alternative to Reddit, and until we have one you have to play their game, or find a new ball.